Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No retreat, no surrender

Today a big chunk of Tennesseans woke up to Sunday papers covering the resilience of Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Both pieces show why we're here to stay and why we will ultimately prevail in spite of a hostile political climate.

Thriving beyond discrimination: Tennessean readers couldn't avoid the extensive piece about former Belmont University soccer coach Lisa Howe and how she has become a catalyst and fighter for a new phase in the equal rights movement in Tennessee. Her experience led to the Metro Contract Accountability Non-Discrimination Ordinance, which was nullified by HB600, setting off a statewide conversation. The story hits a lot of the biggies--job discrimination, marriage, and family life.

Rep. Glen Casada, the sponsor of the infamous HB600, rehashed his talking points for the piece:

“Cities just need to abide by the state law when it comes to discrimination,” he said. “We don’t want the government telling every business what they can and cannot do. We want a uniform set of rules, and that’s what this law is attempting to do.”
Can the story of a life that is emblematic of the ways people have been touched by discrimination be buried by the imagined need for uniform business standards masking bigoted motives? No. The story simply will not die. In fact, it continues to gain traction months after Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill. The story lives because Lisa and others continue to fight.

We're popping up everywhere, even in Red Bank: Times Free Press readers must be pausing today as they find out that the Southeast TN community of Red Bank has a high concentration of same-sex couples. Hamilton County as a whole saw a 58% increase in same-sex couples over the last ten years. The piece indicates what those of us inside the community know--not only is the community growing, but we're more out and visible than ever before. If discriminatory laws are designed to drive us out of state or underground, they're not working.

The fight goes on: As Obi-Wan said, "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." Lisa Howe and those couples living in Red Bank may not be conventional activists, but they will show us the way. To those opposed to equality, Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community in solidarity with our allies says, "We will come out. We will live our lives. We will out-lobby you (even if it takes years). We will take you to court. We will out-media you. We will resist you with everything we have because our lives and the lives of those we love depend on it. And we will be equal."

-Chris Sanders

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